Can Cris Cyborg make the cut to 135, and what would it do to her?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Last Thursday, Cris 'Cybrog' Justino was wrapped in three layers of clothing, in a room at 85 degrees, the hottest it would go.

A scale came to out to see if the fevered efforts had paid off. They did, 145, exactly.

Then ESPN's Brett Okamoto did his job.

“Can you really weigh 10 pounds less than you weigh right now?” he asked.

?Those ten pounds stand between the biggest fight in WMMA history – UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg. However, Cyborg walks around at 170 and has never fought below 145. Rousey will not consider a catchweight fight. 

Last year Justino's former manager, UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz said that Cyborg would be risking her life if she cut to 135. This year, she said wants to defend her Invicta 145 title this spring, fight for the Invicta 135 tile this summer, and then fight Rousey at 135, twice.

It is not clear how it would be to the UFC's advantage to have someone come in, potentially beat one of their marquee stars, twice, and then leave. However, that is Cyborg's explicit goal.

“It’s a year later, and I guess all the things Ronda has said about her, all the things Dana White has said about her, it hurt her feelings,” said Ortiz. “Hearing all that makes a person want to make it possible. 

“If she thinks she can get down there, we’ll try. We’ll make that push. But for this [145-pound Muay Thai fight] she had no carbs. She didn’t lift any weights. She was still walking around at 159 pounds. She’s still having trouble. Yes, it was easier this time, but she’s still making that 15-pound cut the week of the fight.” 

Andy Schnadig, Justino’s S&C coach, also expressed some hesitancy.

“She walks around at 170 pounds with a six-pack,” said Schnadig. “You start getting to 160, and you can see the veins in her abdominals. To get to 135 she’s going to have to lose lean muscle tissue. 

“I don’t think going to 135 pounds is really good for her, but she kind of has to do it to prove her point.” 

“Where it’s going to come off is genetics. We can’t spot reduce and say she has really strong hips, so we can afford to lose muscle in her glutes. It’s going to come off where it comes off. 

“I don’t know if she’ll lose some of that incredible power she has in her hips or not. You’ve seen her fight. She’s a killer. She’ll still have that aggression, but everything from basically her bottom rib to her knees is so strong. If she loses that muscle tissue, maybe she doesn’t have that anymore.” 

So no one knows what the cut would do to Cris Cyborg. But she answered Okamoto's question.

“This time, it does not feel impossible,” she said. “In December, I put it in my head that nothing is impossible. I’ve put it in my head that I can. I can.”

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